While July 1st is known for the opening of free agency, it’s also the first day that players with one year remaining on their contracts can sign contract extensions. That will be the case for Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who has vastly outperformed his current deal, one that carries a cap hit of $4.767MM. In an interview with Sportsnet 650 (audio link), Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests Tampa may be in for quite the battle to get a new deal done:
“But Kucherov made it pretty clear the last time that they used the full weight of the CBA on him, and next time he’s going to use the full weight of the CBA on them.“
The last time the 24-year-old was in need of a new deal, he had no arbitration rights and the team was tight to the salary cap. That won’t be the case next time around – not only will he be able to go to arbitration, he could conceivably force a one-year deal and get to unrestricted free agency. With Kucherov hitting the 100-point mark plus the expected increase in the Upper Limit, the Lightning may very well have to go past the $8.5MM AAV they gave Steven Stamkos to get an early extension done.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic:
- Also with the Lightning, defenseman Anton Stralman will not face any disciplinary action for his retaliatory hit on Washington winger Tom Wilson on Tuesday night, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post. The rationale for the decision stems from Wilson being judged to having turned his back after seeing Stralman approaching and Stralman’s angle which was deemed to target the shoulder.
- The Red Wings will head into next month’s Entry Draft with a clear need to get younger on the back end. Not surprisingly, GM Ken Holland acknowledged to Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News that they will likely be drafting multiple defensemen in the early stages. Detroit will be active in the first half of the draft with a total of seven selections in the first three rounds.